Government’s plan to sell Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) faces yet another impediment with opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) planning to move a motion to block the transaction before Parliament rises next week.
The development emerges barely two weeks after some members of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament challenged government to halt the sale of the bank, because the National Assembly was not consulted.
Leading the move to block the sale is Member of Parliament for Lilongwe South Peter Dimba who has issued a private notice to the National Assembly to question Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe about the sale of the bank.
Dimba has the backing of MPs from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the People’s Party (PP) and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) sole legislator Enock Chihana.
According to the notice of question, Dimba wants Gondwe to explain why government is not recapitalising the bank through public listing (IPO) on the stock exchange so that Malawians are given a chance to own the institution.
The notice further indicates that Dimba wants Gondwe to explain why government intends to sell the bank “on the pretext that it cannot run such a business and yet it wants to start another bank”.
“Why not just restructure MSB to take care of the investment aspect; how do you close a tomato business to start another tomato business? What will happen to the 600 plus employees MSB currently has should the sale materialise,” wondered Dimba.
PP chief whip Ralph Jooma told Weekend Nation that his party will support the motion because the party is against the sale of the bank.
“This is the only bank that is found in the most rural areas; it covers a wide social aspect of Malawians. How accessible will the bank be to rural areas should the bank be owned by a private entity?” he argued.
Aford Member of Parliament Enoch Chihana said his party will not allow government to dispose of MSB without the approval of Parliament.
“That bank was established under an Act of Parliament. Government cannot just sale it without approval of Parliament,” he said.
MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwira said her party will ensure that the bank’s sale is in the interest of Malawians.
“MCP is here to protect the interest of all Malawians because we represent the rural masses; so our duty is to ensure that the sale serves the interest of the majority of Malawians not just a few individuals,” she said.
Kabwila accused government of deliberately failing to intervene in helping the bank to recover millions of kwacha lost to bad loans.
“The privatisation of government assets is meant to benefit a majority of Malawians through shareholding and not just few greedy individuals connected to government,” she said.
Government, which holds 100 percent shares in MSB, is currently soliciting bids from strategic partners.
Ministry of Finance announced government’s intention to sell the bank which is currently undergoing recapitalisation.
The Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) expects to sell the bank within a period of three months but the bank’s bidders conference was held in Blantyre two weeks ago.n